Friday, September 24, 2010

Teresa Lewis, So Senseless

The Commonwealth of Virginia gave Teresa Lewis a hot shot at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2010. And so it goes. A person just can't have other people offed without paying the ultimate price. Can she? The reformed and contrite TL was a model prisoner. She sang Christian hymns. And she didn't give anybody in the penal system, as far as it has been reported, a bit of trouble.

Now Ms. Lewis, by her own admission, had her times. Drugs and profligate sex were part of her life. "I was doing drugs, stealing, lying and having several affairs during my marriages," Lewis wrote in a statement that was read at a prison religious service in August. "I went to church every Sunday, Friday and revivals but guess what? I didn't open my Bible at home, only when I was at church." She married, abandoned her husband and children and had an affair with her sister's husband. Other affairs both subsequent and concurrent dotted her life.

She married the ill fated Jillian Lewis in 2000. Jillian's son, Charles, was called to a active duty out of the Army Reserve in 2002. With the call up came a $250,000 life insurance policy naming dad, Jillian, as the beneficiary. The stage was set, even a woman with a reported IQ of 71 figured out how to get "rich". She realized that both Charles AND Jillian needed to die in order for her to take the prize. Money can be a motivator.

She sought out some killers and she found Matthew Shallenberger and Rodney Fuller. She met up with them at a Wal Mart and the plan began to take shape. The borderline mentally challenged Theresa began an affair with Schallenberger. Later, she would also engage Fuller as well. To trump that, she arranged for Fuller to have sex with her 16 year old daughter.

On October 30, 2002, after praying with Jillian, she went to bed. After the soon to be killed Jillian and Charles were asleep, Theresa unlocked the mobile home's door and she confined the pit bull. Schallenberger and Fuller entered, unloaded their shotguns into the sleeping Lewises and they departed. The shotguns were purchased for the executioners by Theresa Lewis.

Teresa was only the 11th women since 1976 to be legally killed in the USA. There have been 1200 executions during this time. The fact that Theresa was female has been a focal point, but what's the difference. Anybody can be guilty of murder. The capital punishment card, when played, should not be a gender issue, but more compelling is the argument of its ultimate use. Many countries do not execute as a form of punishment. The red ones do.

Perhaps a more convincing reason to have spared Theresa was her mental status. Did she have the requisite mental ability to understand the nature of her actions? Did she have the necessary mens rea to commit a first degree murder? While many have argued in the negative, the ultimate adjudication and the failed appeals, including the appeal requests (2) to Governor Bob McDonnell and to the US Supreme Court, say she was indeed mentally competent to commit punishable murder. After all, she was motivated by money, she sought out killers, she paid them, she had sex with them, she bought the shotguns, she unlocked the door, she confined the pit bull, etc.

58 countries maintain capital punishment, while 95 others have abolished it. China, India, Indonesia and the US all employ judicially sanctioned execution and none are likely to abolish the practice in the near future. Capital punishment remains controversial: killing another human being no matter how, why or what for causes great pain and turmoil. Theresa Lewis's death is and will remain a source of controversy and unrest. It is so sad when the human condition comes down to murder, any kind of murder. The Theresa Lewis saga all seems so senseless the day after the execution.

So it goes.

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